While recent State of the State and State of the Borough addresses have been clogging the airwaves, the plans, and sometimes just hopes, of civic leaders and legislators can be pieced together to create a very definitive state of South Queens.
From ensuring the community has a voice in the plans for the nation’s largest convention center at Aqueduct to senior housing in Howard Beach and a sewer project that has been in the works in Ozone Park for decades, there are numerous major projects in the works for South Queens that could forever alter the area’s landscape.
“We would like to see the future developments at the Aqueduct casino move forward in a process that incorporates community viewpoints to ensure that all possible impacts are properly assessed and mitigated,” Community Board 10 Chairwoman Betty Braton said of the convention center in South Ozone Park that Gov. Cuomo proposed in his State of the State speech earlier this month.
State Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) said in light of the $4 billion center, entirely financed by Genting, which operates the casino, South Queens will need to undergo serious construction to be ready.
“We need to improve our infrastructure,” Addabbo said. “We don’t want to see a parking lot of cars on Rockaway or Conduit when this convention center comes.”
Braton also emphasized that the state of the area will be vastly improved when the affordable senior housing complex run by Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens opens at the former Bernard Fineson Disabilities Center in Howard Beach at 155-55 Crossbay Blvd.
One of the biggest projects that has been in the works for decades, and which Braton said could finally come to fruition this year, is the bureaucratically named HWQ411B sewer project.
“You can definitely add that to the list of things we’d finally like to see,” Braton chuckled. “It’s getting close to construction stages.”
For about three decades, the city has been promising to execute the project, which would replace several water mains and sanitary sewers in the area, as well as add new storm drains — which Ozone Park Civic Association President Howie Kamph said would be a huge relief for a neighborhood that has had a longtime problem with flooding. The project has most recently been held up because the city has had to use eminent domain to gain access to about 90 private properties. No one has to leave their home, but the city has to use pieces of yards, for example, to do construction.
“We’re in desperate need of curbs and sidewalks and street repairs, but the city won’t do any major renovation work until the sewer project is complete,” Kamph said. “On 96th Place, we have areas with no curbs; on 97th Street there’s places without curbs. That’s been the case for 20 years, but they won’t do anything about it because of this project.”